I get Jason Bourne. Now, I could end it all right there and be done because I like to think that those who know me can read my mind. That they will understand the message and will find those four words as funny as I find them to be. But I’ve learned the hard way that mind reading is not something to bet on. Caesars Palace gives better odds. So, at the risk of sounding like my life is one big nonstop adventure (it’s not) or worse, coming across as being whiny (I’m not), I’ll dig this hole a bit deeper.
The other day I was walking from somewhere to somewhere inside the walls of this expansive and beautiful compound in Haiti. Mango trees, palm trees, jasmine trees, cute tukuls and bungalows. A super nice hospital with running water. One 150kva and one 200kva generator providing 24/7 electricity. I mean seriously, this is a five-star mission. So it’s hot and humid. So we all stink and are exhausted not by the work but by the heat. I’m not complaining. A mission in the Caribbean. I can’t expect compassion this time around.
Not to mention the fact that I know exactly what is on the other side of the walls. Cite Soleil. Extreme poverty, crowded living conditions, and very little in the way of safety or public infrastructure. Trust me, I also get how fortunate I am in this life. I don’t fear for my safety, there is always something in the refrigerator to heat up and this being mango season, there are lots and lots of mangos.
So there I was, walking in the hot and humid heat within our beautiful compound, contemplating life inside and outside the walls and thinking about my future. Then it hit me with the force of one of those mangos that so unexpectedly fall from the trees, “I get Jason Bourne.” I snorted loud enough to startle the guard who was slumped over in the ubiquitous white plastic chair one finds around the world. He had lost his struggle to stay awake in the daytime heat. I gave him the thumbs-up and he settled back down, alert for the next few minutes at least. And for a few moments, I was no longer concerned about my future. My biggest concern in life right now was how to communicate this sentiment to others. I ran into the arms of my computer.
I get Jason Bourne. All he wanted was to come in from the cold. To live on an island with someone he loved and rent scooters to happy tourists. But the US Government wouldn’t let him. Jason wanted to live and they were trying to take him out. Taking away his dream of knowing who he really was. Killing his love and forcing him to run.
Now, let’s be clear. The US Government is not out to get me. It’s worse. It’s the voices in my head keeping me from coming in out of the cold. “You’ve been in the field too long. You’ve been institutionalized. No one will ever understand you.”
None of this is true but my voices are clever. Much like the US Government, they have access to secret information. They know my buttons, my fears, doubts, and insecurities. “What employer is going to offer you anything close to what you have now? The daily satisfaction. The challenges and the personal growth.”
I’ve learned to enjoy navigating the minefields of working with people from different cultures. I can find comfort when routines and beliefs are shattered. I appreciate a good bucket bath. I know that on the other side of pain and sorrow is hope and joy and that hearts expand.
“You must keep running,” the voices say, throwing my way never before considered situations. “Manage this,” they say offering up the challenge of negotiating with a Haitian attorney over confidentiality rights of a patient’s medical file or the need to not only develop but also implement a new project strategy. It is what kept Jason from coming in, the unexpected twists and turns of life. Pushing personal limits and moving beyond what was thought possible. Going to bed thinking, “I can’t believe I got out of that one.” It’s addicting.
“You couldn’t even be a barista,” the voices tell me. “You simply would not care if the foam is just right. If the coffee temperature is hot enough. If they get one pump or two of sugar-free vanilla. Perhaps you could be a waitress in a diner just outside the Mojave Desert.”
I take a moment to envision what that might look like. Kramer Junction where highways 395 and 58 intersect. Hot but at least it’s a dry heat. Working with Ivan, the cook who is running not only from the voices in his head but also the US Government. Slamming down in front of customers over cooked eggs, burnt home fries, warmed over coffee, and stale pastries. Offering the kind advice to go heavy on the salt and to ‘potty-up’ before heading out because the next rest stop is under construction. Wait. Did Ivan just wink at me? Is this this long-term relationship I’ve been dreaming of? I shake my head like the Etch A Sketch it is and clear the vision.
“The voices in your head are out to kill you,” mom continuously reminds me. “You don’t have to believe your thoughts,” the sages of today suggest. “Righhhtt,” the voices say, “have another cigarette and think about it.”
And here is the thing. I know I am not alone. Five Jason Bourne films have been produced to great acclaim raking in over a billion dollars. That’s three commas my friends. Clearly, I am not the only one who “gets Jason Bourne.” We all identify with running. But Jason, he has to keep running because otherwise the story will end. Who wants to see a movie with Jason Bourne operating in the real world? Jason as a risk analyst? A private trainer? A barista? It just wouldn’t work.
Running is what Jason does all while holding hope in his hands that maybe, this run is the last run. For the rest of us, it only feels like we have to keep running. “Righhhtt.”